Now, I know breast feeding is a hot
topic when it comes to pregnancy and babies, and defiantly not a subject that I
am aiming to start a debate on. My personal experiences have been both positive
and negative, both uplifting and disappointing, and bonding as well as
isolating all at the same time. All too often new Mums are bombarded with so
much information and misinformation and pressure to do nothing but succeed with
breastfeeding, that I truly believe it causes some Mums to have problems.
With my first baby I had no idea
what I was doing, I had never been around a baby, I had never even held a baby
before I held my tiny little baby S. He was so so tiny, 6.4lb and had to be fed
every two hours, but because I didn’t know what I was doing and had little
help, I was at the point of failure before I even knew I was failing. I also
had a horrible nurse check in on me at home that told me I would be a failure
of a Mother if I gave my baby a bottle. The 2 hour feeding routine and then
pumping in between to increase my supply, exhausted me to the point my milk
just stopped flowing.
My second baby P, was also a tiny
Bub but I at least had a little idea of what I was doing and everything was
going along perfectly until the 6 week mark and again my milk disappeared,
though this time I believe it was from the stress I was experiencing from my
marriage at the time. I tried so many tactics to bring my supply back but
nothing seemed to help, so baby number two became bottle fed too.
Seven years later with an amazing
partner, stress free life, half a clue and all the information I could read
under my belt, oh and the best breast pump money could buy. I was prepared and
determined to succeed, I ate certain things, I did certain thing and I tried to
emotionally prepare myself for success or failure but I was so determined to
succeed I almost refused to quit. It was like the baby gods were against me
breast feeding ever, because Little L was born with both a lip tie and tongue tie.
Things were ok on and off, I thought attachment was fine but his ties were
preventing him from attaching properly and he was just causing more and more
damage to my nipples. Then the milk dried up in one side and no matter what I
did, it didn’t return and then the other side dried up too, I didn’t even
become engorged or get mastitis, I just completely deflated.
So three babies and three different reasons for not being
able to breast feed, but every time I’ve spoken to professionals about it, they
always say there was something I could have done, I could have pushed on, I
could have done this, I could have done that. But the reality was I did everything
I could have possibly done, and with every day I was trying breast feeding my
babies I was becoming more tired, exhausted, losing my mind and I was not
enjoying the experience of being a Mum. I got to the stage I would cringe every
time my babies cried because I knew I was in for pain, therefore my let down
didn’t happen with ease or naturally, which in turn inhibited their feeding.
During the times I was trying to breast feed my babies they
were fussy, their sleep was inhibited and they woke regularly during the night,
but as soon as I put all three of them on formula and I could monitor how much
they were getting through their bottles, they began sleeping and were less
fussy and I began enjoying my babies and Motherhood. All three babies began to
gain weight and I honestly feel I had more freedom and help bottle feeding my
One of the greatest things about bottle feeding is that
everyone in the family can help feed the baby, fathers, grandparents, siblings,
aunties and uncles, this is something that I honestly believe helps build bonds
between baby and family. There is nothing sweeter than seeing a grandparent or
sibling bonding with a baby while they feed it. I know I feel a strong bonding
sensation when I feed my babies, that beautiful moment staring into each
other’s eyes is one of the most precious moments.
Now please don’t think I am against breast feeding or all for
formula, all I am saying is that the pressure I felt to breast feed took over
how I was feeling about being a Mum. I see and hear so often about Mothers
being successful and feeding their babies for a couple years, and I wish I had
that experience just once but for some women it just isn’t possible. On the
flip side of things though, I have heard of plenty of women like myself who had
trouble, who felt the pressure and have felt like a failure, something I wish I
hadn’t felt 3 times over.
I am all for the publicity of women breast feeding in public,
I mean how many times have you seen someone eat something in the street and no
one would ever think to tell them to stop. But I think that maybe this is
another form of pressure for women who have babies and who are trying to breast
feed. It gives the image, the idea that the most natural thing in the world is
for a mother to breast feed her baby. Being a mother that bottle feeds, I even
get the judging stares from people, those judging eyes that say ‘why aren’t you
So no matter which way we go, we’re getting judge from every
angle, we’re getting different forms of pressure from every angle and every
stranger, but worse I think we’re judging and pressuring ourselves to the point
of failure. At what point is our best good enough? Why can’t we just accept
what we can and can’t do and that be ok? Why do we give people to power to make
us feel like a failure and why do we allow ourselves to believe we have failed?
This is where the level of information needs to change, this is where the
education needs to change and this is where public opinions can go jump. I think
the amount of post-natal depression cases would reduce significantly if all
these things changed. But like people accepting breast feeding in public isn’t
going to change over-night, the pressures we put on ourselves and accept from
others, isn’t going to change either.